For decades, Love Lane has been among the most iconic streets on the North Fork. And Christmastime means glowing miniature trees light the downtown storefronts, giving it even more glow.
Perhaps the first sight you’ll see turning onto Love Lane this holiday season is Mattituck Florist, located in a cheery red building at the southern end of the block. This time of year, giant candy canes stand tall at the main entrance of the building and pine swags are carefully laid out in the front for sale.
But this isn’t just any old holiday season for the shop. This year marks Mattituck Florist’s 50th in business.
Current owner Danielle LaScala says she feels blessed to be a part of the store’s five-decade journey.
“This place, the North Fork and how nice the people have been — it’s just been amazing,” she said.
Mattituck Florist first opened its doors on March 5, 1971. It was located on Main Road, where Eastern Front Brewing Co. now stands. Harry and Arlene Jaquillard, two longtime members of the East End Lions Club, started the business shortly after moving from Nassau County to Mattituck.
“Every day I would drive past this location and think, ‘That’s where we need to be.'”Danielle LaScala
Thirty-one years after its opening, Ms. LaScala walked into the shop to ask for a job. By that time, ownership of the store had already been transferred once before. She applied for a floral designer position, but was offered a job working in the garden center instead. There, she maintained the center, helped customers find what they were looking for, and assisted the store’s second owners, Donna and Jack Hamilton, with purchasing items like fertilizer and pond supplies.
“I didn’t have any design experience whatsoever,” she said.
Ms. LaScala first discovered her affinity for working with flowers after planting gardens in her backyard.
“I was having some hard times in my life, and installing gardens brought me peace and happiness,” she said. “I knew then that it was the path I needed to shift toward.”
In 2005, when Ms. LaScala found out Mattituck Florist was up for sale, she took “a major risk” and purchased the business with the encouragement and financial support of her father.
“There were so many aspects of this business that I had no idea I had to be a part of,” she said. Marketing, social media and retail design were just a few of the tasks that quickly became a part of her daily life.
With each order, she became more experienced in floral design — figuring out how to tailor to her customer’s unique requests while working within their budget. Some of her favorite designs have come from orders for customers with no budget; that’s when she says she can let her creativity run wild.
“Isn’t this neat?” she said, pulling up a photo on her phone of a grand vase filled with white orchids and curly willows. “I love working with orchids — they’re probably my favorite.”
Once Ms. LaScala became more familiar with managing the business, she began to re-envision the store.
She had dreams of moving the shop to a better location — one that would get the foot traffic and community presence of Love Lane.
“Every day I would drive past this location and think, ‘That’s where we need to be,’ ” she said.
One day, she saw that the building at the entrance to Love Lane had been listed for sale online. After competing with others for the place, she says she was shocked to find out that her bid had won. In 2010, Mattituck Florist moved to its current location, just 400 feet from the original store.
At the new shop, Ms. LaScala got rid of the garden center and began redirecting her energy on selling giftware. She says gifts have become a major source of revenue for the store.
Today, the inside of the store is filled with lush plants and gifts at every turn. Customers can find items like wind chimes, jewelry and wooden signs with sayings like, “Be you,” and “Don’t grow up; it’s a trap” painted on them.
“I put a lot of effort into what I buy and where I’m buying,” Ms. LaScala explained. “I try to be as conscious as possible and purchase locally made or fair trade gifts.”
Towards the back of the shop is a little greenhouse, where customers will likely find Ms. LaScala and manager Pamela Reimer laughing and putting orders together.
Ms. Reimer is a longtime friend of Ms. LaScala, as the two worked together at the original store, long before Ms. LaScala had plans of taking over the business.
“A huge aspect of our work here is laughing,” Ms. Reimer said as she glued a nativity set back together for one of their regulars.
“People will come in and say it feels really peaceful here and really zen-like,” Ms. LaScala added.
It’s this positive energy, or “vibe,” as Ms. Reimer calls it, that she says has contributed to the shop’s success after all these years. That, and the store’s pack of rescues — two cats and a pitbull named Leo roam the store looking for affection from customers, while a cockatiel named Louis keeps the employees company in the greenhouse.
Thinking about the future, Ms. LaScala hopes that someone will one day take over the business and build on it in the same way she has. For now though, she will continue to grow with the business and make her father proud.
“We are really happy here,” she said. “I don’t want it to come to an end just yet.”